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February 15, 2000

Mr. Bernard J. Garcia
Senior Assistant County Attorney
County of Harris
1019 Congress 15th Floor
Houston, Texas 77002

OR2000-0538

Dear Mr. Garcia:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 132470.

The Harris County Constable's Office, Precinct 4 (the "constable") received a written request for all records pertaining to a certain offense report. You state that the constable has released the "public release report" to the requestor, in accordance with Houston Chronicle Publishing Company v. City of Houston, 531 S.W.2d 177 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1975), writ ref'd n.r.e. per curiam, 536 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1976). See also Gov't Code 552.108(c). You contend, however, that the remaining requested information is excepted from disclosure pursuant to, inter alia, section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code.(1)

Section 552.108(a)(1) of the Government Code excepts from required public disclosure "[i]nformation held by a law enforcement agency or prosecutor that deals with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime . . . if . . . release of the information would interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of crime." You explain that the information at issue pertains to the investigation and prosecution of robbery and capital murder cases that were pending as of the date of your request for a decision regarding this matter. Assuming the prosecution of one or more of those charges is still pending, we conclude that you have met your burden of demonstrating the applicability of section 552.108(a)(1). Given that assumption, the constable may withhold the information at issue at this time pursuant to section 552.108(a)(1).

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Patricia Michels Anderson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

PMA/RWP/jc

Ref: ID# 132470

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Nicolas Bazan
15110 Terrace Oak
Houston, Texas 77068
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. Because we resolve your request under section 552.108, we need not address your other arguments for non-disclosure.
 

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